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Pregnancy

Title IX provides for equal educational opportunities for pregnant and parenting students.­ It prohibits educational institutions from discriminating against students based on pregnancy, childbirth, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy, or recovery from any of these conditions.­ It also prohibits schools from applying any rule related to a student's parental, family or marital status that treats students differently based on their sex.

The University of Arizona is committed to ensuring a pregnant student’s access to educational programs. For information about the process for requesting accommodations, please see drc.arizona.edu/workplace-access/pregnancy-accommodations. If you have questions about the University’s obligations, or the way Title IX applies to you, please contact the Title IX Coordinator or a Deputy Coordinator.

Below is additional information regarding the specific requirements of Title IX as they pertain to pregnancy and parenting students.

May schools require a pregnant student to obtain a doctor’s permission before allowing her to attend school late in her pregnancy if the school is worried about the student’s health or safety?

Schools cannot require a pregnant student to produce a doctor’s note in order to stay in school or participate in activities, unless the same requirement to obtain a doctor’s note applies to all students being treated by a doctor. That is, schools cannot treat a pregnant student differently from other students being cared for by a doctor, even when a student is in the later stages of pregnancy; schools should not presume that a pregnant student is unable to attend school or participate in school activities.

Can harassing a student because of pregnancy violate Title IX?

Yes. Title IX prohibits harassment of students based on sex, including harassment because of pregnancy or related conditions. Harassing conduct can take many forms, including verbal acts and name-calling, graphic and written statements, and other conduct that may be humiliating or physically threatening or harmful. Particular actions that could constitute prohibited harassment include making sexual comments or jokes about a student’s pregnancy, calling a pregnant student sexually charged names, spreading rumors about her sexual activity, and making sexual propositions or gestures. Schools must take prompt and effective steps reasonably calculated to end pregnancy-related harassment, prevent its recurrence, and eliminate any hostile environment created by the harassment. The school violates

Title IX if sexual harassment or other pregnancy-related harassment by employees, students, or third parties is sufficiently serious that it interferes with a student’s ability to benefit from or participate in the school’s program, and the harassment is encouraged, tolerated, not adequately addressed, or ignored by school employees. 

What types of assistance must a school provide to a pregnant student at school?

To ensure a pregnant student’s access to its educational program, when necessary, a school must make adjustments to the regular program that are reasonable and responsive to the student’s temporary pregnancy status. For example, a school might be required to provide a larger desk, allow frequent trips to the bathroom, or permit temporary access to elevators.

In addition to allowing a pregnant student to attend classes, does a school need to allow her to participate in school clubs, class activities, sports, and other school-sponsored organizations?

Yes. Title IX prohibits a school from excluding a pregnant student from any part of its educational program, including all extracurricular activities, such as school clubs, academic societies, honors programs, or sports. A pregnant student must also be eligible to hold leadership positions in these activities.

Does a school have to excuse a student’s absences due to pregnancy or childbirth?

Yes. Title IX requires a school to excuse a student’s absences due to pregnancy or related conditions, including recovery from childbirth, for as long as the student’s doctor deems the absences to be medically necessary.

When the student returns to school, she must be reinstated to the status she held when the leave began, which should include giving her the opportunity to make up any work missed. A school may offer the student alternatives to making up missed work, such as retaking a semester, taking part in an online course credit recovery program, or allowing the student additional time in a program to continue at the same pace and finish at a later date, especially after longer periods of leave. The student should be allowed to choose how to make up the work. If the school requires students with other medical conditions to submit a doctor’s note, it may require the same from a pregnant student.

Source:  Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, Supporting the Academic Success of Pregnant and Parenting Students (June 2013)